Landlords and traders in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital have been urged to be mindful of fraudsters promising to protect their illegal structures from removal by the security sub-committee, of the state task force on COVID-19.

The warning is coming against the backdrop of reports of persons claiming they could influence members of the task force against the removal of their illegal structures marked for demolition.

Freston Akpor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, yesterday in a statement in Yenagoa said some unsuspecting members of the public who have already fallen prey to the fraudsters, were allegedly told to pay some amount of money to protect their structures that were eventually removed.

“The fraudsters are apparently taking advantage of the removal exercise at Swali market, Etegwe and Edepie illegal markets by Tombia Roundabout to defraud gullible landlords and traders.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the taskforce is not under the influence of any person or group of persons and takes directives from only the governor of the state or his representatives,” he said.

Akpor, who is also a member of the State Task Force On COVID-19, added, “owners of illegal structures identified for removal will not only be given prior notice but also asked to remove them before the commencement of any action.

“The task force has not and does not have any reason to engage the services of persons to collect money from anyone on its behalf and thus wants concerned members of the public to report suspected fraudsters to the Police foŕ arrest and subsequent prosecution.

“Landlords and shop owners operating in illegal structures or have illegal structures and extensions on buildings particularly on major roads in the state capital, are advised to remove such structures to avoid forceful demolition by the task force soon.

“Similarly, traders at Igbogene, Okaka and Opolo markets as well as Opolo roundabout are also advised to remove all their illegal structures immediately as the task force will soon move in to remove such structures as part of the urban renewal plans by the government.”

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